Arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity. It is found in water, air, soil and foods. In foods, arsenic may be present as inorganic arsenic (the most toxic form of arsenic) or organic arsenic. FDA has been monitoring the levels of arsenic in foods for decades, and in 2011, increased its testing.
On September 6, 2013, FDA released the analytical results of approximately 1,100 new samples of rice and rice products as part of a major effort to understand and manage possible arsenic-related risks associated with the consumption of these foods in the U.S. marketplace. These 1,100 new samples are in addition to the approximately 200 samples of rice and rice products that the FDA initially tested and released the findings in September 2012.
FDA Statement on Testing and Analysis of Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
The levels FDA found in its testing are too low to cause immediate or short-term adverse health effects. FDA’s work going forward will center on long-term risk and ways to manage it with a focus on long-term exposure.
Consumer Update: FDA Explores Impact of Arsenic in Rice
This news feature is intended for consumers interested in knowing about arsenic in rice and rice products.
- Updated Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
Blog: On Farms and in Labs, FDA and Partners Are Working to Get Answers on Arsenic in Rice
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., recounts her experience touring farms and research facilities to better understand safety issues and the challenges of rice farming.
Blog: Next Steps on Arsenic and Rice
Dr. Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Senior Advisor for Toxicology in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, discusses the next step for FDA, assessing the potential health risk from long-term exposure to the arsenic in rice and foods made with this grain.
NOTE: The more than 1,300 samples reported in FDA’s test results include 200 samples from preliminary sampling done in September 2012 and the approximately 1,100 results analyzed more recently. For the results from the sampling done in September 2012, see Summary of Analytical Results from Rice/Rice Product Sampling (200 samples) and Full Analytical Results from Rice/Rice Product Sampling (200 samples).
Summary of Sampling Results
|Product Category||Product Subcategory||Average Inorganic Arsenic mcg/serving1||Number of Samples|
|Bakery Mixes and Pudding||Brownies||1.3||5|
|Bakery Mixes and Pudding||Cakes/Muffins||3.0||24|
|Bakery Mixes and Pudding||Pie and Pizza Crust||2.5||3|
|Bakery Mixes and Pudding||Pudding||0.8||4|
|Beverages2||Non-Dairy Rice Drinks||3.3||61|
|Grain-based Bars||Cereal/Granola Bars||1.7||86|
|Grain-based Bars||Meal Replacement/Energy Bars||2.0||29|
|Other||Dietary Supplements - Rice Protein Powders||1.9||12|
|Snacks||Savory Rice Snacks||2.2||119|
|Snacks||Sweet Rice Snacks||0.9||22|
|Rice||Other (incl wild rice5, carnaroli, mixed types)||5.6||6|
|Rice||White, long grain||4.6||149|
|Rice||White, medium grain||3.6||91|
|Rice||White, short grain||3.5||23|
1Serving size based on Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) per 21CFR 101.12 for each product category. The average inorganic arsenic (micrograms/serving) reported for each product category was calculated using all inorganic arsenic values. For those samples not speciated because the total arsenic was below the threshold for speciation, half of the total arsenic value was used for the inorganic arsenic value to calculate the average. For samples with the total arsenic less than the detection limit, half of the detection limit was used for the inorganic arsenic value to calculate the average. Please see the Full Analytical Results tables for rice and rice products for further information.
2An assumption was made that 1 ml = 1 g for the purposes of calculating inorganic arsenic per serving.
3The highest sample in this category was a rice bran cereal containing inorganic arsenic equivalent to 30 mcg/serving; the next highest samples in this
category contained inorganic arsenic equivalent to 11 mcg/serving.
4The 16 Toddler Cereal samples are a subset of the Infant Cereal category due to potential use in both infants and toddlers.
5"Wild rice" is not actual rice. Wild rice comes from an aquatic annual grass (Zizania aquatic) bearing edible grain.
- FDA Statement on Arsenic in Brown Rice Syrup February 17, 2012